Bishop Carroll seemingly has been a McPherson High volleyball nemesis forever.
Prior to the McPherson Invitational on Saturday, Bullpup coach Christy Doile said to watch out for the Golden Eagles even though they entered the tournament as just the No. 5 seed and their 13-8 record didn’t have the sparkle of the seeds ahead of them.
But in the end, there were the Eagles — again — reigning as the champions.
The private school power took out Nickerson 25-15, 25-14 in the championship match after it had swiftly handed the Bullpups their only loss of the day, 25-17, 25-11.
MHS did bounce back and defeat tourney top-seed Goddard 25-14, 25-23 for third place to complete a 5-1 day and give the Bullpups 30 wins on the season in 35 matches.
Perhaps a detractor for the Bullpups was they had to exert a lot of emotional and physical energy in a thrilling three-set win over Class 4A power Nickerson in the final pool match of the day that lasted far longer than the other matches. The Bullpups, who didn’t get much of a break after that match, seemed to have tired legs against Carroll, as did Nickerson in its loss to Carroll in the finals as that match took a lot out of both teams. But Carroll also was deserving as it played so consistent throughout the day.
“We had to jump back and get right after it and Bishop Carroll had a break and they were rested,” Doile said. “We came off an emotional high. The first set we had a bunch of hitting errors. The second set they put down more balls. We were just a little flat and a little off. Usually we’re off maybe, but not for two sets. I think that’s the first time we have hit negative all season and we were negative both sets.”
Carroll had gone 3-1 in pool play, losing in three sets to Goddard, including 25-7 in the third set.
But Doile liked how her team bounced back in its sixth and final match as Goddard had as many losses here as it had all season. The Lions were 22-2 entering the day, but looked drained by the time they played the Bullpups.
MHS had gone 4-0 in its pool with victories over Salina South (23-25, 25-11, 25-23), Hillsboro (25-15, 25-14), Junction City (25-14, 25-11) and Nickerson (22-25, 25-19, 25-17). It was easy to see why Nickerson ended Kingman’s 32-match winning streak last week as the Panthers had a cadre of hitters and will certainly be a factor in 4A.
Doile said her team takes a lot away from the day.
“It’s good to know that if we’ve got to come off an emotional win, we’ve got to be ready to play right away,” she said. “That can happen at sub-state. If we win first round, we have to be ready to play second round. Or in a state situation, we have to be ready to play.”
As in the case of any marathon day, Doile said a number of players took turns standing out.
Elle Barrett led in kills with 68, while Cassie Cooks (33) and Andrea Sweat (24) followed. Jayee Burghart was the most consistent player of the day and accumulated 134 assists. Michaela Bowers led in digs with 44, with Bailea Crist (36), Burghart (27) and Barrett (26) all chipping in.
MHS goes to Clearwater on Tuesday where it will encounter defending Class 4A champion and currently undefeated Rose Hill for a second time. The Rockets swept the Bullpups when the teams met earlier this season at the Roundhouse.
Garden Plain defeated Hutchinson to take fifth place and Salina South outlasted Hillsboro for seventh in three sets. Lyons and Junction City did not advance to the final round of play.